The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment for the Indianapolis Housing Agency, finding the agency had a qualified privilege to report an employee’s suspected criminal conduct while on the job.
Ex-employee Kelvin Brown sued IHA for malicious prosecution and intentional infliction of emotional distress after he was fired from work and charged with ghost employment, official misconduct and deception.
The IHA suspected based on witness accounts and the GPS system installed in his employer-provided car that Brown was dealing with matters involving rental properties he owned during work hours. Brown was a Section 8 housing inspector for IHA; his homes were not Section 8 properties.
During work hours, Brown appeared in small claims court for a case related to one of his properties and did not properly request time off to attend court. The GPS also showed his car located at one of his properties during work when there was no reason for it to be. The cars were only used during work hours.
The prosecutor eventually dropped the charges due to evidentiary issues.
The Court of Appeals judges agreed with the lower court that the IHA had a qualified privilege to make a criminal complaint against Brown. This privilege has been applied to claims of defamation, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. The judges extended the privilege to malicious prosecution.
They found the designated evidence in the case didn’t raise a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the privilege was abused. The evidence didn’t establish that IHA’s conduct rose to the level of extreme or outrageous, the judges ruled.